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Battlefields of Valhalla

Posted October 22nd, 2007 at 01:15 PM by truth
Updated April 14th, 2008 at 03:29 PM by truth
I've been wanting to do a highlight of the Battlefields of Valhalla so I asked one of the 'BOV' judges to write something up for me.* Riggler writes:

Battlefields of Valhalla (or BOV) is Heroscapers.com version of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for competitive maps. A group of six judges review, playtest and vote on maps that are nominated. Anyone from the community can nominate maps. The map can be yours or one designed by someone else. The judges simply ask that you have playtested the map with 500-point armies yourself before nominating.
The map must also fit our newly revised guidelines which are found here.

The maps that have been approved by the BOV panel can be found here. And while the display thread here is subtitled “best tournament maps” all these maps are also sure to offer up a fair and competitive atmosphere for those casual games between family and friends. In the last year, 22 maps have been nominated. Of those that BOV judges decided to playtest, only six have made it into the Battlefields of Valhalla. That’s only a 27 % approval rating. In other words, only the best of the best get in. Also of note, with the exception of perhaps one or two of the maps nominated, the other nominated maps are still a good source for casual play.

The new guidelines should give map designers more freedom of choice in what master sets and expansions to use. The judges are expecting some exciting new maps. Keep in mind that many judges consider the quality of the map must justify the additional hexes. For example, judges typically don’t expect as dynamic gameplay on a map made from one master set as they would from say a master set, lava set and two jungle sets. I’ll get into some tips and what judges are looking for later.

Judges are always looking for nominations. The process usually takes 4-6 weeks from the time a map is nominated until it gets approved. Anyone can nominate a map for review, just be sure to read the guidelines and make sure the map in question meets those criteria. In short: It must obviously not exceed the limits on sets used, must have 24 start hexes on each side, must identify which sets are used, and it must have been playtested by the nominator.

Judges eyeball nominated maps to see if there are any obvious design flaws. A majority of them must agree to playtest the map to take it to the next step – playtesting. Judges then playtest a map using 500 point armies in a competitive style game. If 75% of the judges (5 out of 6 if all are voting) agree the map is worth, it gets inducted into the BOV. So you see, its not easy for a map to make it. This is part of the BOV’s quality assurance. The judges realize that – just like Good Housekeeping – the reputation of accepting quality maps is really all they have.

There are some obvious basics in designing a good map. The first think I would suggest is to go read the article “Building a Better Map” by Jimmy Johnson in Codex No. 2 at www.hscodex.com. So what in particular are the current judges in BOV looking for in map design? Well, the current judges are very diverse. What makes one giddy for one map may be an automatic no from another. The following are what current judges say they look for most in a BOV map.

Eclipse: “Unique play mechanics. Most maps seem to have few options beyond getting height, simplifying things to the person who gets in the most attacks. I really like maps that provide interesting choices.”
Elstree:” I like a map with unique features that promote strategy and planning. A good tournament map ought to reward the better player not the better roller.”
Revdyer: “I look for two things that may seem contradictory, but aren't, I think: simplicity and a problem to solve.”
Riggler: “Asymmetrical balance. Symmetrical maps are boring and too easy to design. Designing a balanced asymmetrical map – that takes true talent.”
R˙chean: “Aesthetics has become important to me; I really want the honored maps to look good. Map balance can be achieved through nice symmetrical maps that look so plain no one wants to play them. I like a map that can achieve balanced, competitive play and still be great looking.”
Velenne: “Every time you play a selection from the BOV, it should play differently. If there's only one clear-cut strategy to winning a given map, it's fundamentally flawed.”

In summary, BOV judges are looking for a balanced map that looks great and provides dynamic gameplay.

You do become a bit of an expert when you go over maps with a fine-toothed comb looking for high standards. Now you know the number one thing judges look for in a map. These are things that judges say may not occur to new map designers, and maybe even some veterans:
Eclipse: “If you're adding an expansion to your map, make sure it's expanding more than the amount of terrain used. There’s nothing more useless than a road too short to boost your movement.”
Elstree: “A good map shows intentional design. Don’t design your map just to look pretty; there ought to be some deliberate reasons you built it the way you did, and those ought to be evident in play-testing.”
Revdyer: “Don't use all the pieces you own.”
Riggler: “Set glyphs (as opposed to mystery) that are not equal distance from start zones can be key to balancing an asymmetrical map for competitive play.”
R˙chean: “Sometimes less if more. Maps that use few expansions will probably get used more often in tournaments than ones requiring 3 expansions and an engineering degree to assemble.”
Velenne: “If you must include in glyphs in your map, make sure they're evenly spaced from each player's starting zone. Count the number of moves it takes by air and land.”

A truly great map will be accepted whether it’s symmetrical or asymmetrical, has glyphs or no glyphs, uses all the pieces in a set or doesn’t. So get to work and build the greatest map of all time for the greatest battle of all time.
Total Comments 1


(Game%Maker)'s Avatar
wow i love the maps im going to make one of those
Posted August 8th, 2010 at 08:15 PM by (Game%Maker) (Game%Maker) is offline
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